Brazen Car Theft Hits Cleveland Area Dealers

Managers at a Bedford car dealerships described a string of recent thefts as “brazen” and said they’ve never heard of someone stealing cars in such a manner.

Detectives said Stephen Kukoleck walked into multiple dealerships asking about employment. He then waited for an opportunity to slip into a back room and steal car keys, which he used to drive the cars off the lots, Bedford Police Sgt. Rick Suts said.

“He came in an asked for an application, and he even had coffee,” said Scott Newman, general sales manager at Mazda of Bedford. “When the store got busy, he moseyed his way to the back and stole keys.”

Kukoleck did not ask for an application at Ganley Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram. It appears he was inside the dealership’s showroom and slipped into the back to steal keys when no one was looking, General Manager Rick Heller said. Ganley Chevrolet is a Car Pro dealer affiliate.

“Who does that?” Heller wondered. “He does.”

It was the first time someone has stolen a car from Ganley Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram in six or seven years, Heller estimated.

Thefts are uncommon at dealerships on the Bedford Automile, Newman said.

“It’s very unusual,” he said. “Usually, it’s very safe around here.”

Kukoleck, who is homeless, waived his preliminary hearing Monday in Bedford Municipal Court. His case was bound over to Cuyahoga County Common Pleas Court.

Maple Heights police arrested Kukoleck about 6 a.m. Thursday, Bedford Police Sgt. Rick Suts said. He was found less than 24 hours after Bedford police asked the public for help identifying him.

Kukoleck is accused of stealing eight cars from Mazda of Bedford, Tim Lally Chevrolet, Ganley Chrysler Jeep Dodge Ram and the Bedford Collision Center since Feb. 16.

A 2013 Ford F-150, a 2005 Ford F-150, a 2013 Toyota RAV4, a 2006 Audi A6, a 2015 Jeep Grand Cherokee, a 2004 Audi A6, a 2010 Saab and a 2006 Chrysler Pacifica were taken.

Photo Credit: All State

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